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Hoki and paua fishing unsustainable

Hoki and paua fishing unsustainable

Assessments of the hoki and southern paua stocks show that the latest reductions in the allowable take are unlikely to be sufficient to put these fisheries on a sustainable footing Forest and Bird said today.

Society Senior Researcher, Barry Weeber welcomed Fisheries Minister, Pete Hodgson’s decision to reduce hoki catches as a critical step forward for the over-fished New Zealand fishery. The new fishing year starts on 1 October.

“The New Zealand fishing industry needs to acknowledge that many New Zealand fisheries are not being sustainably managed,” he said.

“The 10 percent cut to the hoki fishery is unlikely to be enough to stop a further slide in the western hoki population. Estimates of sustainable yield for hoki are under 160,000 tonnes, but the catch has only been reduced to 180,000 tonnes,” he said.

Mr Weeber said indicators in the hoki fishery were grim, including the 2003 Chatham Rise trawl survey that indicated there was only 17% of 1997 amounts of hoki aged 7 years and older. Hoki has a maximum age of about 25 years.

“The latest stock assessment compiled by the Ministry of Fisheries shows that the western hoki stock was declining fast while the outlook for the eastern hoki stock was very uncertain.”

Mr Weeber said the allowable take of hoki should have been cut last year but Forest and Bird’s calls were ignored by the Ministry of Fisheries. “Ultimately, it is the fishing industry that will suffer when action to reduce unsustainable fishing is delayed,” he said.

Mr Weeber said a reduced hoki catch should also reduce the deaths of fur seals and albatrosses that occur in this fishery – a bright point in an otherwise gloomy picture.

“Forest and Bird also welcomes the Minister’s decision to cut the Southland paua catch (PAU5D). Catch reductions were inevitable given the current stock assessment and it was important for the Minister to give a strong direction to all fishers.

Mr Weeber said it’s a pity that similar measures were not taken to safeguard the fishery at the top of the South Island (PAU7).

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